Ben Stokes’s miracle Headingley knock sets Test record for Sky

• Broadcaster registers peak of 2.1 million UK viewers
• Channel 5’s one-hour highlights package attracts 2 million

Ben Stokes and the miracle of Headingley resulted in Sky’s highest audience for a day of live Test cricket, with a peak of 2.1 million UK viewers switching on as England levelled the Ashes in dramatic fashion.

The figure is dwarfed by that for the World Cup final between England and New Zealand last month – another match-winning performance from Stokes – that peaked at 8.7m in the UK after Sky (3.5m) opted to share its live broadcast with Channel 4 (5.2m).

But while the partnership was a success – the final beat the 8.4m peak audience on day four of the 2005 Trent Bridge Test, when Channel 4 held the rights – a repeat deal with a free-to-air broadcaster is not expected during this Ashes series.

Channel 5 has reported an audience of over 2 million for the one‑hour highlights package that followed day four at Headingley while BBC’s Test Match Special claimed similar figures to its coverage of the World Cup final with 1.3m requests on the day via its online platforms.

The frenzied finale to the third Test, in which Stokes (135 not out) and No 11 Jack Leach (1 not out) put on 76 runs for the last wicket as England chased down an improbable 359 to win, left the Australia coach, Justin Langer, ruing his side’s use of the decision review system.

Nathan Lyon believed he had trapped Stokes lbw for 131 when England were two runs away from the target, only for Joel Wilson, the on‑field umpire, to turn down the appeal. The Hawkeye projection suggested it was out but with the captain, Tim Paine, having burned his team’s last review in the previous over – a speculative lbw against Leach from a Pat Cummins delivery shown to have pitched outside leg – the on-field decision stood.

The tourists have made nine unsuccessful reviews in the field during the series, and Langer said: “We’ve been really poor at it this whole series. We’ve talked a lot about getting better at our reviews. We’ve got a way we go about it but sometimes you don’t quite get it right. The one off Pat Cummins was getting pretty desperate at the end and that often happens. That’s just how it works out.”

Australia’s tour continues with a three-day match against Derbyshire from Thursday and with Steve Smith back after missing the third Test with concussion and his stand-in, Marnus Labuschagne, having made three successive half-centuries, the opener Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja may be playing for one spot.

Langer said: “We can’t fit them all in, that’s one issue we’ve got. One thing I do know is we’re not batting well enough at the moment. I said at the start of the series the team who bats best will win the Ashes.”


Ali Martin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The big question: was Stokes’s hundred the greatest Test innings you’ve seen?
All-rounder’s firework finale spanned Atherton’s Johannesburg doggedness with Botham’s 1981 heroics while eclipsing both. But what about Graham Gooch’s own Headingley masterpiece?

Guardian writers

26, Aug, 2019 @7:17 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes’s next challenge? Matching Ian Botham’s 1981 follow-up
An England all-rounder scoring an against-the-odds, match-turning Headingley century to reignite an Ashes series … Here’s what Ian Botham did next

Guardian sport

04, Sep, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Ben Stokes’s rampage should not be sullied with a judgmental asterisk | Rob Smyth
England all-rounder’s match-winning 135 not out was not compromised by a turned-down lbw shout that, rather, showed the much-touted infallibility of cricket’s technology may be in doubt

Rob Smyth

26, Aug, 2019 @4:58 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes’s best England innings since Botham puts all else in shade | Andy Bull
After a dizzying day in Leeds it is hard to imagine anything this year in this sport or any other eclipsing Stokes’s display to win the third Test for England against Australia

Andy Bull at Headingley

25, Aug, 2019 @7:14 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes inspires England to sensational third Test win over Australia
England completed one of the biggest comebacks in Ashes history to beat Australia in the third Test by one wicket with Ben Stokes scoring 135 not out to help level the series at 1-1

Vic Marks at Headingley

25, Aug, 2019 @6:09 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes warns Australia to expect more hostility from Jofra Archer
There will be no let-up from England’s fast bowler Jofra Archer for the rest of the Ashes, Ben Stokes has said, as Australia wait to see if Steve Smith can recover for the third Test

Ali Martin

19, Aug, 2019 @5:37 PM

Article image
England’s Ashes puzzles: what to do about Anderson, Roy – and Stokes | Tim de Lisle
Who makes room for Jimmy Anderson? Should Jason Roy be dropped or moved? And how do make sure Ben Stokes is still on song? There is plenty to ponder before the fourth Test

Tim de Lisle

29, Aug, 2019 @12:09 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia
‘I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler,’ said Ben Stokes after Jofra Archer took 22 wickets in his first four Tests for England

Ali Martin

16, Sep, 2019 @6:56 PM

Article image
Spectre of Ben Stokes gives Tim Paine sleepless nights before Ashes battle
The Australia captain has been worrying how to get Ben Stokes out in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford

Ali Martin

03, Sep, 2019 @5:04 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes says Australia’s clean-cut image will not last long
The England all-rounder expects flashpoints in a tough battle for the Ashes over the next seven weeks

Ali Martin

30, Jul, 2019 @9:00 PM